An Invitation

You can create a life you love… right here, right now.

You’re going to work with the raw material of your life… exactly as it is.

Start with a willingness to practice creating moments of
Peace, Joy, Empowerment, And love… in each day.

What would that look like?
What is peace? Joy? Empowerment? Love?
How does one live those qualities?

Peace is a deep inner quiet we each have within us, that can be accessed anywhere, any
time, by briefly pausing, breathing deeply and allowing one’s self to be still.

Joy is the exuberant feeling that comes from being aware and awake to the small miracles
and wonder of life in each moment.

Empowerment is recognizing one’s ability to take action, and taking action.

Love is making a choice in this moment to support one’s divine potential or that of
another with kindness and compassion. Love is not an adjective, it is a verb.

You can create a life you love by bringing these qualities to the circumstances of your life
as they are now. All you need is a sincere “yes” to yourself… and a daybook…

A daybook can be on your phone, I-pad, computer. It can be a big beautiful journal or a
little notepad that can be carried easily in a pocket or purse. It can be a graphic journal
where you draw instead of write.

Each day just take a moment to record:

When today did I create a moment of peace?
When today did I create a moment of joy?
When today did I create a moment of empowerment?
When today did I create a moment of love?

As you begin doing this right here, right now… your life will change and you will begin
creating a life you love.

Posts made in August, 2013

Author’s Roots Yield Rich Harvest

9780316227940_custom-6ce3aa1cfe7dd79644c4d9978c27fa29b29f3b20-s6-c30Author Jo Robinson’s family history has an important role in the work that led to her new book Eating on the Wild Side, The Missing Link to Optimum Health.

The book documents how vital nutrients have been bred out of our produce in a quest to make the taste more palpable. It is an engaging and practical guide in showing the reader how to reclaim health and vitality by creating a diet rich in nutrition. (Click on “Feasting at Nature’s Café” on the right sidebar for more info.)

Healthy eating was an important part of Jo’s family culture. “My grandmother, Elizabeth Robinson, was into nutrition long before it was popular to do so,” she told me during a recent interview.  “She would bake seven loaves of whole wheat bread every Friday for the family to eat throughout the week.”

This was before the nutrition in whole wheat bread versus white was widely known.  Her grandmother was ahead of her time, a bit anti-establishment.

When my grandmother was young “the USDA was telling Americans they should eat white bread because it was more digestible,” Jo said.  Her grandmother belonged to an organization of women that protested white bread and Coca Cola because they were bad for one’s health.

Elizabeth also fed the family seeds and nuts, and had them drink green tea for their health.  “I don’t know how she knew what she did,” Jo said. “But she was very outspoken in life about what we should be eating.  We lived and breathed that.”

Her grandmother grew an organic garden on the family’s wooded property in Hood Canal, Washington.  As a child Jo explored the woods. “I felt one with nature, I felt safer there than anywhere,” she said.

Later Jo enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  She dropped out midway unsure of what she wanted.  She returned to the family property and lived in a cabin there by herself for a year.  To sustain herself she cleared a patch of land that was overgrown with blackberry brambles and planted an organic garden.

IMG_9995Eventually she married, had a child, and began a writing career. Her first books were in the self-help genre and were collaborations with experts in the field. They include: Unplug the Christmas Machine (with Jean Staeheli), Getting the Love You Want (with Dr.Harville Hendricks), Emotional Incest and Hot Monogamy (with Dr. Pat Love), When Your Body Gets the Blues (with  Dr. Marie-Annett Brown ), and The Omega Diet (with Dr. Artemus Simopoulos).

But she was always interested in food and nutrition and eventually her history and her own passion pulled her in the direction of producing the most nutritious food possible.  She began exploring agricultural practices in the cattle industry and wrote two books, Pasture Perfect and Why Grassfed is Best, on raising cattle on a grass diet.  She traveled the country teaching farmers how to change their farming practices based on the research she had conducted.  All the while she was growing and experimenting with her own garden.

“I screen everything through scientific research,” she said, “which is how I see things.”

But there was more than science at play in Jo’s own creative unfolding.  Standing in her writing office IMG_9989overlooking her half-acre garden, she shows me an aged brown picture of the family land.  The picture features a cabin and the garden her grandmother planted. The picture was just discovered a few years ago by a family member.  When Jo first saw the picture, to her amazement, she realized the organic garden she had grown in her earlier years was in the exact same spot her grandmother had gardened.

Jo also possesses letters her grandmother wrote to her grandfather when he was away on business.  They had one child at the time and Elizabeth wrote to her husband that, while she was happy to be a mother, perhaps they could consider waiting to have more children for a while so she could go to college.

The next letter Jo has, reveals her grandmother with several more children and no college education. “I am taking up where she left off,” Jo said a bit wistfully.

IMG_9799And Jo has carried on the important work of promoting healthy eating that her grandmother started. She has created a life she loves in the process.

“I have the hardest time getting enough sleep, because there is so much I want to do!” she says enthusiastically.  “When I wake up early, I can’t go back to sleep, because I’m so excited!”

Here are the five tips Jo shared on how we can begin to enrich our eating habits one bite at a time.

Eat some fresh garlic every day. Garlic has a proven ability to thin the blood and prevent disease. After putting it through a garlic press, it is vital to let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking so it will maintain its incredible health benefits while being exposed to heat. Only buy garlic in its skins, which protects its nutrition until it is used. Store in the fridge in a brown paper bag. Do not put in the crisper!

Choose apples that are red on all sides.  Completely red apples are 2 – 3 times better for us because of their exposure to the sun. The most nutritious varieties currently available in the United States include Braeburn, Cortland, Discovery, Gala, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Idared, McIntosh, Melrose, Ozark Gold, and Red Delicious.

Choose the best lettuce and eat in abundance.  The most nutritious lettuces have loose open leaves and are intensely colored—with hues of red, purple, brown or dark green.  These lettuces have an abundance of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant that aids in fighting cancer, lowering blood pressure, slowing age-related memory loss, and even reducing the negative effects of eating high-sugar and high-fat foods.  Iceberg Lettuce, the most popular in this country, has so few nutritious properties it is of almost no health advantage to eat.

originalIf it’s purple eat it!  Now you can find varieties of potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic that are deep hued, not only purple but red and blue.  This is a sign of powerful health promoting antioxidants.

Eat at least a half cup of berries a day.  Berries are loaded with health promoting, disease-fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Flash-freeze berries for storage by placing them in a single layer on a tray, putting in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then placing in freezer bags.  This helps maintain their critical nutrition.

And as a bonus, here’s a sixth tip that is nothing but fun!

Eat two or three pieces of Dove Dark Chocolate every day. It helps our skin, reduces the risk of cancer and memory loss.  Dove has perfected a patented process that preserves the powerful antioxidants during processing by using lower temperatures.  Dove is actually healthier than the hardest, darkest, high content cacao chocolate often sold in health food stores, because of their processing method.

Learn more in Eating on the Wild Side or at www.eatwild.com.

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Feasting at Nature’s Café

“The universal health advice to ‘eat more fruits and vegetables’ is woefully out of date.  We need good advice on which fruits and vegetables to eat.”
— Jo Robinson, Eating on the Wild Side

 We can live healthier, longer, more vibrant lives by choosing, properly storing and preparing, and eating fruits and vegetables that are loaded with nutrition.  Jo Robinson, who has been called “the Joan of Arc” of the next food revolution, tells us how in her new book, Eating on the Wild Side – The Missing Link to Optimum Health”

IMG_9951As I walk into Jo and her husband Rick’s beautiful home overlooking the shores of the Puget Sound in Vashon Island, Washington, she relays her exciting news—her book is number seven on the New York Times Best Seller List.

This is a woman who has truly created a life she loves by following her passion and supporting it with years of hard work and a deep commitment to the truth about how to best nourish our bodies.

The book is receiving critical acclaim – including the largest opinion piece the New York Times has ever run, a press conference with many of the major media outlets on the east coast, an interview on Fresh Air, and an upcoming appearance on 60 Minutes.

“I never imagined I would be hitting my prime at age 66,” the investigative journalist and author told me.

My husband Brian, and I, and our daughter Maria (whose pictures illustrate this article) recently visited Jo at her home.  We were taken on a tour of the garden and ate some of its delicious bounty.

IMG_9780“My wild garden covers over 10,000 years of agriculture,” she explains to us during our tour.  She lifts the branch of an apple tree bearing mature fruit the size of large blueberries.  “This is the most nutritious apple in the world,” she explains.  “It has hundreds of times more antioxidants than the apples we have bred today.”

She explains in her book that over the past two decades, plant scientists around the world have discovered that wild plants are much higher in nutrients than their cultivated counterparts. Plants protect themselves from insects, disease, damaging ultraviolet light, inclement weather, and animals, by producing an arsenal of chemical compounds called phytonutrients.

When we consume plants rich in phytonutrients we receive the benefit of theses nutritious chemical compounds including antioxidants which protect us against “noxious particles called free radicals that can inflame our artery linings, turn normal cells cancerous, damage our eyesight, increase our risk of becoming obese and diabetic, and intensify the visible signs of aging.”

The trouble with the mini-apple in her garden is how bitter it is — which is where agriculture comes in.  Over centuries, humans have bred much of the nutrition out of fruits and vegetables in a quest to improve the flavor. Plants have been created that are high in starch and sugar and low in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which help us thrive.

“When Morley Safer, (from 60 Minutes) is here, I’m going to explain to him that this is why we started agriculture – to breed out the bitterness, replacing it with sweetness,” she said.  (While we were at her home and garden she was preparing for the cast and crew of 60 Minutes to be visiting her garden and home for their feature on her book.)

Jo’s book and garden are a result of her review of over 6,000 research based articles from medical and professional journals that provide the science behind her premise: Learn to choose fruits and vegetables that are phytonutrient dense and you will become healthier and more protected from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and a plethora of acute and chronic ails.

IMG_9960Jo explains that we do not need to forage for wild plants to regains these lost nutrients.  We can choose select varieties in our grocery stores and farmers’ markets that come close to having the nutritional value of wild plants. And we can also grow our own gardens.  Her research shows that produce that is blue, purple, and red, including those deeply hued varieties of potatoes, yams, carrots, lettuces, cabbages, onions, garlic, and berries, is more nutrient dense.

As we continue the garden tour we taste her berries, which are delicious! “I feel healthier already,” Brian jokes.  Turns out it’s not a joke.  “You are healthier right now!” Jo says, “You are healthier this minute because this food immediately begins reducing your risk of inflammation (which leads to cancer), protecting you  from damaging UV rays,  and improving your cholesterol level.”

IMG_9869Jo recommends eating at least ½ cup of berries every day. She reports that berries have four times more antioxidants than the majority of other fruits, 10 times more than most vegetables and 40 times more than some cereals.

“We humans are very capable,” she explains, “but not wise enough to create a world that is as healthy for us as the natural world.”

She is vigilant about not blaming.  She explains that agricultural practices were based on making food more palpable for us, without realizing that crucial nutrients were being compromised in the process.

Her book reports that “. . . the Department of Agriculture (USDA) can spend years perfecting a new variety of blackberry or apple without ever measuring its phytonutrient content or its effect on blood sugar.  If the variety is attractive, pleasing to eat, productive, and disease resistant, it is considered a triumph.  Meanwhile, our bodies hunger for the nutrients that we have left by the wayside.”

9780316227940_custom-6ce3aa1cfe7dd79644c4d9978c27fa29b29f3b20-s6-c30Eating on the Wild Side is an engaging, enjoyable, and very practical book.  Each chapter focuses on a different fruit or vegetable and takes us on an enthralling journey that includes fascinating information about the history of the plant and practical and simple advice about how to shop for, store, and prepare nutrient dense food from the grocery store or farmers markets.

“What is so exciting,” Jo tells me, “is our knowledge is finally catching up with our cleverness.  In the last 15 years we have been able to measure what is in plants – more than 8,000 phytonutrients.”

Jo is the first journalist to go into this level of detail about plant nutrition for the general public.  She researched for 10 years, reading dense scientific studies looking for “the nuggets of information I felt consumers should know, but that were locked up in academic journals,” she said.

And if it weren’t for this groundbreaking book it still would be locked up.

Next week I will share five simple tips Jo shared to improve our eating habits including exciting news about chocolate! I will reveal the fascinating and inspiring story behind Jo becoming a researcher, writer, and advocate for healthy eating. In the meantime, taking care of our bodies is a crucial and indispensable part of creating a life we love.  I encourage you to pick up a copy of her book and make one change.  I have become a convert to her message and have changed the way we shop and eat.  It’s been less than a month and I feel great and I don’t suffer from hunger and cravings (except occasionally and Jo reassures me that eating well also protects us from ourselves by repairing damage from our occasional lapses.) I’ve also lost five pounds! Join me in this quest to honor our bodies as the precious resource they are!

 

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Finding Center

Finding Center

“Each time we follow and act on our Inner Knowing, we build confidence in our unique gifts, while accelerating our ability to make life-affirming choices and birth our Heart’s dreams
into reality.”  —- www.HeartFireGateways.com

Sitting on a log in the woods near our home, I have been observing four of my grandchildren, ages 8-12, trying to catch a tadpole – with no luck– for at least 45 minutes.

They are each clutching wire mesh kitchen strainers, posed for immediate action as they strain their eyes on the imagesmurky pond water in which they are wading.  Patience and concentration are their bywords. They are totally immersed in this exact moment, looking, eyes wide open, for the brown fishy flutter of an unformed frog on its journey to maturity.

I’m amazed at their patience, their presence to their task, their full engagement with this quiet quest.  I am also amazed that I too have sat utterly still for this long.  I have left technology behind – there are no texts to check, schedules to adjust, calls to return.  I am not thinking about work or the laundry the size of a Mini Cooper at home, or what we are going to have for dinner.

I have been captured by the wonder of my grandchildren engaged with the natural world. I have accessed my own inner “natural world” beneath the “have-to’s” and “shoulds” and the “tyranny of the urgent” that can easily inhabit my head in the midst of daily living. Gone is “busy-mind.”

Suddenly the silence is broken by a joyous and astonished cry by a grandchild, “I got one! I got one!”   The sound of water splashing fills the air as the other three rush to see the lone tadpole now in captivity.   I too jump off my log and slosh through the pond to admire their achievement.

The brown tadpole is now the center of their bliss.  “Look at how fat he is!” “He looks like a fish!” “Look how funny those little legs look!”

They are seeing.

UnknownNext they want to touch him.  Slowly, one at a time, they each reach into the plastic bucket and gently cup their hand under the creature.  It holds very still resting in each pink palm that gently cradles it for a moment.

Then the debate begins, the adamant debate – should they raise it in capitivity or release it back into the wild?  It is a matter of urgent and impassioned debate.  My attention recedes from their problem to my own inner reality. I am awash in the comfort of this moment. I am thankful that I made a deliberate choice this day to draw a line between “all the rest of it” in life, and a return to the natural world with my grandchildren for a day of swimming, exploring, playing.  I feel renewed and more connected to my own center.

What is our center?

1107kr_uk-163-1For me it is a place of knowing deep inside of me.  It is the part that is still, that observes, that holds my personal truth.   It is only when I access that place that I am able to give it voice and presence in the demands of daily living.

“. . . to be a woman is to have interests and duties raying out in all directions from the central core,”  Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes in Gift from the Sea. She speaks of how most women  “suffer from what the German’s call Zerrissenheit: torn-to-pieces-hood.”

I am taught repeatedly by my own experience that I do best when I deliberately draw back from the demands of daily living and infuse it with quiet, escape, recreation.  A re“creation” of life can happen then.  I can better observe the story I am telling myself about what I believe “has to be.”  I can better see my way to a new story – one that is grounded in my limitations, while not losing sight of my vision; one that reminds me there will be enough time for what really matters; one that is based on reality versus perfectionism.

When I am most connected to my own center, I am more able to see and follow my own inner light versus the 450px-City_neon_lights-1world’s flashing neon messages.  I can make the choices that are right for me.  My life doesn’t have to become a question of trying to juggle numerous demands, balancing innumberable balls in the air.  What really needs to be done will somehow find completion.

When my emphasis shifts from trying to cram and balance and juggle to trusting and listening and following I slow down and accomplish more.  I have a quiet inner sense of what is a priority RIGHT NOW and what can wait.  My energy and attention are directed by an inner choreographer that leads me through many steps, but with grace and serenity.

When I am tired and overextended, I know I have neglected the inner landscape and need to make time for escape.

“. . .we can respond to our own soul as it winds its way through the maze of our life’s unfolding.” Thomas Moore writes in Care of the Soul.

He reminds us that caring for our soul, another way to frame what I am speaking of here, “. . . isn’t about curing, fixing, changing, adusting, or making healthy, and it isn’t about some idea of perfection or even improvement. . . it remains patiently in the present, close to life as it presents itself day by day.”

His words remind me I can accept and embrace what is and find meaning in it, caring for my soul, as I journey the rocky terrain of life and all its challenges.

Elijah, my long-haired, environmentalist grandson, has won the debate!  The tadpole will be released back into his natural environment.  He will return to his natural world.  The naysayers are momentarily disappointed and then discover a shallow current in the nearby stream that will carry them along, like a natural water slide.  The tadpole catching equiptment is abandoned. They are on to their next adventure — allowing themselves to be carried, to enter life’s flow with wild abandon!

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Releasing Guilt Part 2

Releasing Guilt Part 2

that-chocolate-cake-slice“He showed the words ‘chocolate cake’ to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. ‘Guilt’ was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: ‘Celebration.’” –Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

“Food, love, career, and mothers–the four major guilt groups.” –Cathy Guisewite

Ask yourself this: What would I be feeling if I didn’t feel guilt?

Dr. Harriet Lerner, an expert in female psychology, posits that as long as we as women feel guilty, we are immobilized. The necessary changes that need to be made in our own lives, and the broader culture, are not addressed. “Women who are guilt-laden, are narrowly focused on what’s wrong with them as an individual,” she asserts.

The irony with guilt, is that while it makes us feel less than, it is based on the arrogant assumption we shouldn’t make mistakes – an impossibility.

psicologo-problema-fertilidadeJane was a new counselor working at her first internship in a medical facility.  It was a prestigious and sought after internship.  She was proud that she had been deemed competent enough to be selected.  She was promptly given a caseload of nearly 20 clients and began her practice of what she had learned in her graduate program.

A month or two into her internship she was triggered by a client who stirred her natural nurturing personality.  She over-stepped the bounds of her professional relationship by picking up a sweater for this client that she saw on sale, knowing that the client was in dire poverty.

To her surprise and chagrin, the client was furious about the gift and demanded to be put with a new therapist.  The incident was reported to her direct supervisor and ultimately the head of the counseling department.  Both met with her to discuss and reinforce the boundaries of therapy.  She was still kept on the staff, but put on probation.

Jane was devastated.  She went from regretting her temporary lapse in ethical judgment to deciding she was unfit for the field.  She shrunk into a guilt-fueled depression over her “stupidity,” as she labeled it.  She barely made it through her next round of appointments, then went home and called in sick the next day.

While she was home beating herself up and agonizing over the stricken look on the client’s face when she had handed her the sweater, she got a random call from a relative who was also a counselor.

She tearfully recounted her faux paus only to have her uncle laugh out loud and say, “I would love it if my therapist bought me a sweater!” He confirmed, that yes, she had gotten off track, but that did not mean she was not cut out to be a counselor!  “Look at what compassion you have. That can be channeled so well!  You won’t need to give gifts because you are a gift to people.”

He then shared with her the time he accidentally scheduled two clients at the same time who also happened to be archenemies. “You should have seen the fireworks in the waiting room that day!” his voice boomed over the phone.

What the uncle offered her was an important expanded perspective. “It’s called ‘a practice’ for a reason,” he said.  “One doesn’t arrive completely competent without the needed experience of some trial and error.”

So true of all of life, yet a bright view that can be easily be overshadowed by the grey cloud of guilt and self-depreciation.

As a young idealistic mother I vowed there were certain things I would never, under any circumstance, do as a mother.  And then I had toddlers and teenagers and my mistakes were legion.

Washing-Machine-OverflowOne day I was having a particularly trying day. I was sleep deprived, the washing machine overflowed, I got an overdraft notice from the bank, and the principle called from our grade school to report one of my daughters had done something inappropriate at school. Her voice registered grave concern. My heart pounded, and my mind raced through the possibilities – sassing the teacher? Cheating? Pushing someone off the monkey bars?  No. During an art project she and a friend had super glued two

of their fingers together! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

By the time the kids were home from school more trouble erupted.  One of my teenagers had already launched a marathon telephone conversation with a friend she had just  “You need to get off the phone and do your chores first,” I told her.

She didn’t make any moves to get off the phone so I disconnected the call.  “You’re ruining my life,” she yelled at me and ran into her bedroom and slammed the door. (By the way, if you have daughters that aren’t teenagers yet, prepare for this phrase.)

Sadly, I took it personally and unleashed on her with my own verbal attack.  At first I felt angry, justified, but within a matter of seconds I was consumed with guilt.  How could I have said such hurtful things to my own daughter whom I dearly love?  What kind of mother was I anyway?

Within moments I had gone from feeling bad about my behavior to feeling bad about myself.   After things had calmed down I called a friend and shared with her.  She reminded me that the initial useful meaning of my guilt – that I could have handled things better, had quickly escalated into full-blown shame.  I hadn’t just made a mistake; I was now a failure as a mother and person!

She guided me toward a healthier response – humility.  With humility I could say, “I am human.  I make mistakes and I can make amends.”

HugRenewed, I went to my daughter, took her into my arms and told her how sorry I was and how much I loved her.  Ironically, she had been in her room writing a note to me expressing the same.  It led to a deepening of our relationship. I realized that taking responsibility for my mistakes and working them out goes a lot further than hiding behind guilt.

Here is a challenge:  for one week, keep a pen and notebook close by.  Note every time you feel guilty and why.  At the end of the week review it.  What was the mistake? Or was there even one?  If there was, how could you correct it or do it better next time?  Did you feel guilty about things that were someone else’s agenda or perspective, but not yours? Ask yourself what a broader perspective would look like when you had a guilty moment or day.

By slowing down and reflecting we can challenge our guilt, use it productively,  more clearly identify our own values, and then act accordingly.

 

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